I read I Let You Go shortly after it was published in 2015, and thoroughly enjoyed it (although I never blogged it, I don’t think).
The second book by Clare Mackintosh was published last year, and is another thriller, focused around the notion of being stalked. With two main characters – Zoe Walker, who sees her photo in a newspaper, and Kelly Swift, a police officer investigating the case – and others that may be linked.
While I Let You Go was excellent, with two intertwining storylines and a conclusion that was hugely satisfying, I feel like I See You suffers from that dreaded second book syndrome. It’s just not as good as Mackintosh’s first offering.
You do the same thing every day.
You know exactly where you’re going.
You’re not alone.
When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.
Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .
I See You is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015.
I had several issues with this book. The first was that I’m not sure the whole idea stands up. The notion of stalking seems to me to be more intensely personal than the book depicts, with the involvement of a website offering up women being somewhat of a stretch. So I wasn’t really on board with the thing from the beginning.
There’s a lot of misdirection and suspicion in the book, with Zoe suspecting every man in her vicinity at one time or another. But while the first two-thirds, or even three-quarters of the book were solid enough, providing I get over my disbelief of the central premise. But while there was an interesting twist in the last quarter, as the villain was revealed, from there, things just went crazy, and my belief in the story decreased with every word.
My specific disappointments with the story are difficult to articulate without spoiling major plot points, so I think it will suffice to say, that while I was surprised by the reveal of the villain, and appreciated one aspect of their character, the lack of flagging earlier in the book of who it might be was a weakness. While I like a twist that takes you by surprise, on second reading of a book, knowing in advance who it is, you should be able to pick out tiny hints of what was going on. And I really don’t feel like that was the case with this one. Plus, the motivation and actions of the architect of the website was more than suspect. So that left me even less impressed with this book.
Finally, there was a needlessly dramatic epilogue tacked onto the end of this book which was thrown in entirely for shock value. While the last few lines of I Let You Go are ominous, and leave an unsettled feeling, the last few pages of I See You was needless addition to a story which had already crossed the line into melodrama a long time before.
Disappointed in this offering, I’ll still look forward to Mackintosh’s third book, in March 2018, but this one was far from a keeper for me.